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Anthony McNamee
Position: Left Winger
From: Watford FC Academy
Career stats: Soccerbase
He is: An exciting prospect. Again.
Past Profiles: June 2004, April 2002


I didn't think we'd need an Anthony McNamee profile by 2005. His type go one of two ways: They're either John Barnes, in which case they disappear for a shedload of money, or they're Rod Thomas, and they disappear even faster in the opposite direction. But here we are, three-and-a-half years after his debut, still not quite sure what we have got, or what we will have in Little Ant.

It certainly wasn't looking good; in the 2003/2004 season, Macca played only seven times - five of them for Barnet in the Conference. He came into the picture a bit more during 2004/2005, but it was still all substitute cameos, his asthma cited as a barrier to a fuller role. Ray Lewington made it clear in his handling of Lee Cook and Ashley Young that he would welcome wingers into his team, but only if they contributed fully to the defensive effort. Not difficult to see, then, why Macca was out of the picture.

Indeed, his "cameos" tended to be fairly ineffective, other than in raising the volume of the crowd. But then, perhaps this was part of the problem: he was weighed down by expectation. Contributions such as his match winning effort against Walsall were rare, and performances like the one at Reading became the norm.

And that, I assumed, was that. Exit Stage Left.

But before he could exit, Enter Stage Right Adrian Boothroyd. And here, I'm afraid, I'm unable to offer much of an insight. I don't know what's happened to Anthony McNamee. I don't know what's going to happen.

I do know that exciting wingers very much form part of Boothroyd's game plan. I know that Boothroyd has given McNamee a one-year contract extension. And I also know that, despite Boothroyd's protestations to the contrary, it appeared that Macca couldn't get through a whole game when he was substituted in the first two games of this season, and then found himself in his more accustomed role of 'bench-warmer' for the next two games.

And that, I again assumed, was that. He still had the tricks, of course. He could still whip in a mean cross. But these skills are of little use if you rarely find yourself with the ball, involved in the game. So, a few more substitute cameos, and then goodbye.

Two weeks on and suddenly Anthony McNamee has a future again. Suddenly he is an exciting prospect once more. Suddenly he is our Cristiano Ronaldo, the man who can make something happen out of nothing.

It started with the Carling Cup match with Notts County, when Betty played largely a second string team. Macca played the full ninety minutes. Then, when Paul Devlin picked up a knock, McNamee played against Reading. For the full ninety minutes. Two days later, a fixture at Derby. Surely he would return to the bench. But no, he played the entire match. What's really encouraging about these three appearances is the fact that he's been involved. Not just from time to time, a bit here and there, but throughout the entire matches. He has been a constant threat. And he has created goal-scoring opportunities.

So what now? It's hard to believe he's going to be a regular starter. But then, it's still hard to believe that he played three full games in seven days. Macca's defensive contribution doesn't appear to have greatly increased, but somehow it seems not to matter. There are a number of success stories from the early part of Betty's reign, but Macca would have to be the pick of them. Can he keep this form going? Who knows; it's hard not to have doubts. But he's given himself a chance. He might make it - and that's more than most people would have said a few months ago. And I'm confident that, whatever happens in the long term, there are some moments of magic to come from Little Ant. Thank goodness we didn't discard him.

Mike Smart
Last updated: September 2005